21 January 2017

Women’s March on Washington kicks off Down Under

Australia and New Zealand first to hold rallies as part of a global movement reacting to Donald Trump's inauguration.

Thousands of locals and expat Americans have taken to the streets in several cities in New Zealand and in Australia, kicking off the global Women's March on Washington movement following the inauguration of US President Donald Trump.

In Sydney, Australia, thousands of people gathered on Saturday to march through the city.

Organisers said the demonstration was more than just about Trump.

"We're doing this because we don't want to stand by and let the bigotry rhetoric of Donald Trump prevail," Ayebatonye Abrakasa told Al Jazeera.

"Today we're standing up for our country, for the rights of the indigenous people, for the rights of the refugees who have been held unfairly at Manus and Nauru islands, for the rights of women who deserve to be able to own their own bodies. We're fighting for everyone, this is an all-inclusive event."

Local media in New Zealand reported that more than 1,000 women, men and children marched in the country's biggest cities, Auckland and Wellington.

What began as a single march planned for Washington, DC, has expanded to 673 sister marches in US cities and around the world.

Marches will be held in all US states and in more than 50 countries.

"I've always had a passion for women's issues in particular and this really is a time that we need to put down our lattes, pick up a sign and start marching," Californian-born march organiser Cindy Buell, who has lived in New Zealand since 2005, said in a press release ahead of the march.

In Washington, celebrities including Janelle Monae, Scarlett Johansson and Ashley Judd will appear at the demonstration that is expected to draw some 200,000 people.

The platform presented by the Washington march organisers calls for ending violence against women, strengthening of workers' rights, reproductive rights, environmental justice, immigrant rights and more.